Goalkeepers Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool) and Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City) are two of Ireland’s handful of players at the Premier League’s elite clubs.
But former Irish midfielder David Meyler has advised both to stay with the big boys next season rather than going out on loans for experience.
Meyler retired two years ago as his knee gave way after thousands of tackles as a professional footballer. Now helping out with Ireland’s U-17 team, and working towards securing an ‘A’ coaching badge, he knows youngsters need regular football above all.
But he argues that goalkeepers are different.
“Any other position on the pitch, from right-back to left-winger, I’d be saying to a young fella, ‘go, get out somewhere else, get games, you need to be playing’.
But goalkeepers don’t even reach their prime until they are about 31 or 32, and they still have years of their career to go after that.
There is plenty of time for them yet, Caoimhín and Gavin are going to learn so much while at their clubs right now.”
Maybe the path to the Manchester City first-team is still a long road for the teenager Bazunu, but for Kelleher he could get first team game time with Liverpool next season.
Jurgen Klopp has promoted him ahead of Adrian to be clearly second choice goalkeeper at Anfield, and with Alisson rather injury-prone, big games will surely come for Meyler’s fellow Corkman next season.
“In the meantime, Caoimhín is learning from Jurgen, from Alisson and from the coaching staff at Liverpool. He can only get better.”
It will be the same for Dubliner Bazunu when he goes back to City after his season-long loan at Rochdale ended with the club’s relegation.
“He can only learn off the likes of Ederson,” insists Meyler, “did you see Ederson’s ‘assist’ for City’s opening goal against PSG on Tuesday?
"A 60-yard clearance, with one step back to deliver it, that was put right into the stride of Zinchenko. It was clearly worked on at the training ground. What a skill – if Gavin can learn to do that?”